In Your Face, Fear!

"Live every week like it's Shark Week"
-Tracy Jordan, from 30 Rock

Well, friends, I have done it! I have conquered my greatest fear! And it's amazing! I highly recommend doing it yourself, unless of course your greatest fear is something legitimately dangerous, like setting your hair on fire or swimming inside of a whale's stomach, for example. :)

I mentioned in my last post that one of the notable things that I did last summer was book a flight to Florida. Flying has been my biggest fear for around 7 years (although I began to be a nervous flyer around 1998!), and has spawned all sorts of negatives things in my life, such as panic attacks and missing out on really cool opportunities to travel. I have always known that my fear is irrational; that driving to the airport is many times more dangerous than the flight itself, for example; but I don't think that phobias ever really make sense. And, in a way, I could contain all of my fears into this one big one, which I found to be generally avoidable.

Then this opportunity came up to go with my family to Florida to visit my great-uncle Hank and his family and celebrate his 90th birthday. It was just too good to pass up. Uncle Hank's family contains some of my favorite people, including my wonderful Uncle Hank himself. For the first time in 7 years, not taking the flight seemed more unappealing than actually getting on the plane. I also decided that I was sick of that fear restraining me from living life.

The week before the flight was almost unbearable- I almost called my mom to back out a hundred times. I was so nervous that I began to feel like the trip could not be worth all of the distress. But one day I realized that if the worst thing that happened was that I was panicky all weekend, then at least it would all be over by Monday. I knew the plane wouldn't crash. I just had to accept the fact that I might be a mess, and that wouldn't be the end of the world.

I also took some precautions. :) I took a lavender-filled neck pillow (for relaxation), an eye-mask (to block out the land disappearing beneath me), an mp3 player (to drown out the engine noises), hearing protection from work (to make sure I didn't hear anything else!), a bottle of prescription Atavan (hey, I can't do it all on my own!), my brother Davidde, my mom, and my Aunt Mary Anne. Luckily my relatives didn't seem too embarrassed to sit next to me!

I wasn't the calmest passenger ever, but, believe it or not, my plan worked. Before I knew it, I was sequestered in my little world and we were in the air. I seriously couldn't tell I was on an airplane with any of my senses (since I blocked most of them), except that I could feel a little turbulence and motion. Every once in a while, I would feel like we were moving downward, so I'd rip off my eye mask and hearing protection and quietly ask my aunt, "Are we plummeting?!?" and she'd look at me like I was crazy and say, "Nope," and I'd go back in my bubble. After a few cycles of this, we were back on the ground in Florida! And, the most amazing thing of all: I didn't freak out!

I haven't been on a flying vacation in 7 and a half years, and I had completely forgotten how cool it is to be able to be whisked away to a new place in a matter of hours. In my case, our place had blue skies, palm trees, and an ocean. Within a couple hours of our arrival, I was standing with my feet in the warm Atlantic with my mom, watching my older brother play in the waves like a little kid, breathing in the salty wind, watching the sun disappear over the hotel, and feeling like the most blessed person in the world.

Wouldn't it have been a shame if I missed moments like these??

It only got better as the weekend went on- I got to hang out with my Uncle Hank's family, swim in the 6' waves, dance all night at the birthday party, visit one of my best friends Sara, buy new clothes at a 75%-off outlet mall, sleep to the sounds of the ocean, and laugh and laugh and laugh with my extended family. It was perfect. And it was just icing on the cake to the rush of freedom I felt from finally facing this fear. I wanted to cry thinking how God had opened up this huge door of adventure for me since I am no longer scared to get there. Now all I need is some money... :)

I am sure more irrational fears will pop up in my life (it's just my way!), and I wouldn't say that I am completely comfortable flying now, but knowing that it's possible to have hope that fear doesn't have to win has made such a big difference in my outlook. Seriously, you have to try it! I mean, as long as you're safe´┐Ż otherwise, you'll give me something new to fear! :)


previous next comment


All works copyrighted by Ciara Stella